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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-07-27 19:48
Subject: [cancer] The gifts of cancer
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, personal

By and large, I am much better these days. The antibiotic course has been effective, within the context of the usual unpleasantnesses. The surgical seam is nicely healed, though I feel it when I am very tired. I haven’t been aware of the internal seam in a while.

Still, I stop and think about this often. Sometimes for a moment, sometimes for quite a while. And today I realized cancer has given me a number of gifts.

I am far more in touch with my body these days than ever before. (You! In the back! Quit snickering! This is a family blog.) My comprehension of the immediate and longer term consequences of things like dietary choices, activity choices, resting time and so forth is much stronger than before. My recent cholesterol workup was the best I’ve ever had. I weigh less than I have since I left college.

I am much more thoughtful about how I spend my time. I’m a lot more ruthless in declining events, opportunities, even people. This feels selfish to me, but it also feels like much better self-care.

I am much more careful with how I spend my energy. I take more breaks, more downtime, am not trying to paint my schedule wall-to-wall.

Even better, I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough of a handle on those issues not to go back to my old defaults. At the least, I’m going to work at it.

I wouldn’t wish my path to these gifts on anyone, but they’re clearly things I needed to hear and understand. Cancer brought me to my knees and bent to my ear and whispered to me that I should be mindful of what I spent my life on. And so I am trying to be.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2008-07-28 03:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is profound. I haven't had such a life event myself, but indeed, some of the most negative things in my own life have turned out to have bestowed amazing gifts, upon reflection.

Carry on, you're doing fantastically. You're an inspiration, and I'm so glad you're sharing like this with us all.

It is so easy to live for others. What a lesson, to live for yourself first, so that there is something left for the others.
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User: rdeck
Date: 2008-07-28 05:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>I am much more thoughtful about how I spend my time....

You work, you eat, you spend time with family, you blog... when do you sleep? [grin]
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Karrin Jackson
User: karjack
Date: 2008-07-28 07:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was about to post that fibromyalgia has been a great teacher to me along these lines. Not necessarily the one I would have chosen, but maybe that's the point.
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Wendy S. Delmater
User: safewrite
Date: 2008-07-28 08:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you were looking for a closing line for that book about your experience with cancer, I think you just wrote it.
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cathschaffstump: Japanus
User: cathschaffstump
Date: 2008-07-28 16:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for this profound and wise post.

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User: quixhobbit
Date: 2008-07-29 03:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You put this beautifully. As a fellow cancer survivor, I feel the same way. I used to tell people "cancer is by no means the preferred path to enlightenment, but it *is* one...if you keep open to the experience." 16 years in remission later, for me, the challenge is to remember (and keep implementing) all the lovely lessons I learned. Because I sure don't want to have to repeat the lesson-giving experience...!

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LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-07-15 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: Jay Lake, Cancer, and God #4: Prevailing
User daveraines referenced to your post from Jay Lake, Cancer, and God #4: Prevailing saying: [...] that you will prevail.")  He has even written about "the gifts of cancer," [...]
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